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Dated 25 February 2007: Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight


Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight is pretty good so far. It's nice to see ufotable return to off-beat, non-mainstream shows after its largely-flawed efforts at bridging the divide via Coyote Ragtime Show.

It's also great to have Megumi Hayashibara back. She sings the OP and ED to Manabi Straight with much aplomb. She makes me want to re-watch Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi just for the OP and ED, to tell you the truth. Incidentally, as is the case with nearly all ufotable shows, Manabi Straight has a claymation ED.


Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight is a slice-of-life high school comedy featuring a quintet of girls. Most of their personalities are fairly cliche through the first few episodes, but you can bet that ufotable is playing its cards close to the chest here. There are a number of apparent spoilers found in the Manabi Straight promotional trailer. Viewers are reminded to consider the case of Futakoi Alternative which revealed essentially the entire plot for the first nine episodes in its trailer. Nevertheless, Futakoi Alternative still managed to take most of its viewers by surprise when its tone changed drastically. No doubt we can expect Manabi Straight to likewise venture off in unconventional directions.

Okay, what type of "unconventional directions" am I talking about? Well, for one thing, the show takes place in the future during an age where declining birth rates are forcing many schools to close. It's a sure thing that the story will explore this bit in greater depth later.


This is not to say that Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight is going to take a dystopian turn toward angst-o-rama-land. (At least not permanently.) After all, this is ufotable, not Gainax. There are some emo moments, though. Mei's nervous breakdown in episode four comes to mind, although ufotable painted her world in surreal colors instead of taking a more conventional bleak approach—one example of how ufotable does things better by doing things differently.

Than again, I am a little perplexed by the youthful appearances of the characters. I believe Manabi herself is supposed to be 15, so there's really no reason to think any of the characters are anything less than high-school age. I'm going to chalk it up to artistic license on the part of the character designer. Think of it as an extension of the cherubic character designs used in the earlier ufotable show, 2x2=Shinobuden (marketed as Ninja Nonsense in the United States).

Dated 12 April 2007: Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight

Futakoi Alternative mugs
Collateral damage.

No! Not the Futakoi Alternative mugs!

Dated 18 April 2008: Futakoi Alternative mugs are real

Futakoi Alternative mugs
Futakoi Alternative mugs.

As spotted on Koshimizu Ami's blog. So much nicer than my own Futakoi Alternative mugs.

[Edit: Pity Kadowaki Mai didn't cross-post the picture on her own blog.]

Dated 27 August 2008: Kara no Kyoukai makes me want to get an eye exam

Why are all Shikis so stabby-stabby?

All y'all failed to tell me ufotable is animating episodes of Kara no Koukai. And that Kajiura Yuki is composing the music. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I'm so there.

Touko Aosaki
Nice glasses.

I fully support Girl Shiki's decision to wear combat boots and a red leather jacket with her kimono.

Ryogi Shiki
Yellow raincoats, not so much.

That extended fight scene in the first episode gave me End of Evangelion flashbacks. I could almost hear Sakamoto Maaya saying ERSTE in my head. Moreover, the music backing that fight is exactly the kind of thing I miss so much in My-Otome 0~S.ifr.

So that's what happens when you take Asuka off the meds.

Through the first three 50-minute installments, I have to admit Kara no Koukai is a little heavy, but that's to be expected given the subject matter and source material. It's good to indulge in moments like these to balance out the brain-sapping boobery of, say, Kanokon.

Dated 14 September 2008: Another look at Kara no Kyoukai

Shiki's eye
I should have noticed earlier that the very first image in Kara no Kyoukai is an eye.

Shiki's apartment
I like how Shiki essentially has no possessions.

Tohko's wall-to-wall clutter
It's quite a contrast to Tohko's wall-to-wall clutter.

Dated 16 November 2008: Anime product placement is insidious

Haagen Dazs in Shiki's freezer
Haagen Dazs ice cream in Shiki's freezer.

Haagen Dazs
Delicious strawberry ice cream.

Ice cream counts as a snack, right?

Dated 22 November 2008: Unravelling the mysteries of Kara no Kyoukai one at a time

Shiki's freezer
Even the inside of her refrigerator is clean, for crying out loud.

How does Shiki keep her apartment so clean? This question has been bothering me for a while. She throws her robe on the floor in the morning, so I don't think she's a naturally neat person.

Shiki's bedclothes
Did I say robe? I meant bedclothes.

Does Kokuto come by to clean up after her like a little house boy? (See also Toradora! and Nodame Cantabile.)

Kokuto puts water in Shiki's fridge
Kokuto keeps Shiki stocked with bottled water.
It's not a stretch to suggest he tidies up.

It took me a while, but I figured it out: She just KILLS any dirt and clutter that manage to build up. Duh.

Dated 18 December 2008: Kara no Kyoukai episode four, wherein Shiki does all right for a convalescent

Shiki and Touko
Shiki and Touko.

Just so you know, Kara no Kyoukai IV is fully awesome and I will spoil the shit out of it if you don't go and watch it RIGHT NOW.

[Spoilers: Shiki gets better.]


Seriously, though, Kara no Kyoukai is great and you should watch it.